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I'm currently developing an iOS app that enables users to log in to the app using TouchID, but firstly they must set up a password inside the app first. Problem is, to show the setup password option to enable the TouchID login, I need to detect if the iOS device supports TouchID.

Using the LAContext and canEvaluatePolicy (like the answers in here  If Device Supports Touch ID), I am able to determine whether the current device supports TouchID if the user has set up passcode on their iOS device. Here is a my code snippet (I'm using Xamarin, so it's in C#):

static bool DeviceSupportsTouchID () 
    if (UIDevice.CurrentDevice.CheckSystemVersion(8, 0))
        var context = new LAContext();
        NSError authError;
        bool touchIDSetOnDevice = context.CanEvaluatePolicy(LAPolicy.DeviceOwnerAuthenticationWithBiometrics, out authError);

        return (touchIDSetOnDevice || (LAStatus) Convert.ToInt16(authError.Code) != LAStatus.TouchIDNotAvailable);

    return false;

If the user has not set up the device passcode, the authError will just return "PasscodeNotSet" error regardless of whether the device actually supports TouchID or not.

If the user's device supports TouchID, I want to always show the TouchID option in my app regardless of whether the user has set up passcode on their device (I will just warn the user to setup passcode on their device first). Vice versa, if the user's device doesn't support TouchID, I obviously don't want to show the TouchID option in my app.

So my question is, is there a nice way to consistently determine whether an iOS device supports TouchID regardless of whether the user has set up passcode on their device?

The only workaround I can think of is to determine the architecture of the device (which is answered in  Determine if iOS device is 32- or 64-bit), as TouchID is only supported on devices with 64-bit architecture. However, I'm looking if there's any nicer way to do this.

Thanks beforehand! :)

In conclusion of the discussion below, for the time being it is not possible to determine whether a device actually supports TouchID or not when the user hasn't set up passcode on their device.

I have reported this TouchID flaw on the Apple bug reporter. Those who want to follow the issue can see it on Open Radar here:

Thanks @rckoenes for the input :)


Turns out that someone has reported a similar issue already (#18364575). Here is Apple's reply regarding the issue:

"Engineering has determined that this issue behaves as intended based on the following information:

If passcode is not set, you will not be able to detect Touch ID presence. Once the passcode is set, canEvaluatePolicy will eventually return LAErrorTouchIDNotAvailable or LAErrorTouchIdNotEnrolled and you will be able to detect Touch ID presence/state.

If users have disabled passcode on phone with Touch ID, they knew that they will not be able to use Touch ID, so the apps don't need to detect Touch ID presence or promote Touch ID based features. "

So..... the final answer from Apple is No

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